April 30, 2016

Bigger Pieces of You

One of my favorite toys as a kid was my dad’s wine opener. It was one of the ones that has two long arms that rise as you twist the cork; I used to pretend it was a scrawny metal robot doing jumping jacks. I used to grab it from the table on Saturday mornings from the rest of the debris as my parents slept upstairs. The smell of stale smoke and wine fumes in the air. Glasses laced with ruby rings and overflowing ash trays. The stereo was still on and a Neil Young record sat gathering dust. The low grade buzz silenced as I turned it off and sleeved the vinyl to make sure it was safe.

I would lay on my stomach and use the wine opener to attack Luke as if it was a droid from Tatoonine. Until of course Han Solo would come and save Luke yet again and defeat the wine-opener droid.

My childhood was lonely but happy. Filled with hours of solitary play. I don’t ever remember anyone actually actively playing with me. I often entertained myself on the periphery of political debates, long hours in the darkroom and empty Saturday mornings.

I took some kids from my Mentor class to dinner and laser tag tonight. Not everyone could make it, and it was the smallest group I have taken out to date, but they had a blast. It was a good reminder that all connections and teaching need not always be for every kid all the time. You spot teach and connect with those who need it when you can. This random group of six kids tonight, would not have been out together if it wasn’t for our outing. And a few of them probably would not have been out at all. We ate, We chatted. We shot each other with lasers and then we went our separate ways.

If you want to build community and connect to kids they need to trust you and they will never trust you if they only see you in teacher mode. They need bigger pieces of you. Some people might not agree or not have the time, but the truth is that the student teacher relationship is a human one, and as humans we need to let down our guard and relinquish the authority teacher student dichotomy. You want a kid to trust you, they need to know you. I know that an few hours eating Nando’s and running around in the dark is not enough for this kind of connection but it is a step in the right direction.

“Wow I didn’t know guitars could sound like that.” Kaia listening to the solo at the end of Seven Nation Army on the way to McRitche today. She has been obsessed with the song since she saw a middle school mad play it at Sound Asylum.

I was so proud of my girls for hiking the trail with zero complaints. Kaia even had blisters and she sucked it up. They were wet and muddy and hot and sweaty and all into the creeks and trails and having fun in the jungle.

Kids need so much more time in nature than we give them. Living in a city and following an intense structured international school system, our kids need dedicated consistent time running and playing in the mud. Free to get dirty and make mistakes and take risks.

I closed my eyes and thought of a memory:

I was living in Mission Beach with Jeff in a one bedroom place that housed his motorbike in the living room. I can’t recall how long we lived there or where I slept. Did I have a room? A bed? That detail feels unimportant. I do remember flooding the floor one night. Riding his bicycle to Caroline’s house for a keg- me on the handle bars screaming and waving away the people. I remember cockroaches and the darkness, but somehow seldom the ocean. Why did I not learn to surf in those days or ever swim in the wave? I worked at a series of shitty jobs and called you on the payphone from across the street because I was lonely and only your voice seemed to make it all go away.

No comments:

Post a Comment